The North practice was the first of the morning on Day two and it was my first opportunity to observe them firsthand.
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â†‘ TJ GRAHAM - WR - NC STATE: Graham is clearly the star of the North receiving corps with his dynamic speed and consistent ball skills. Graham was a favorite target of the North quarterbacks and for good reason, as he seemed to come down with everything thrown his way. Graham has a couple of extra gears that he used against the North DBs to gain separation and make consecutive plays. He has been so explosive in and out of his breaks today and really didn’t let any passes hit the ground save one pass that Alfonso Dennard broke up on the sidelines. Graham is a star in the making.
â†‘ MARVIN MCNUTT - WR - IOWA: McNutt is not one of my favorite prospects here but he continued to impress today with his consistent hands and ability to manipulate his matchups regardless of matchup. He didn’t win every single matchup but he won a majority of them and he dominated his battles against Iowa State’s Leonard Johnson, beating him regularly on curls, slants and even deep nines. McNutt doesn’t always display the ball skills to be a consistent hands catcher but he gets the job done time after time.
â†‘ AUDIE COLE - LB - NC STATE: Cole has terrific core strength and anticipation to break up plays before they develop. He was a monster during backs vs backers in pass blocking drills, twice getting the edge on Wisconsin FB Bradie Ewing and destroying Chris Polk on a couple of occasions. He got him to wiff on a pass block but also bull rushed him over and flattened him in his tracks. Cole has great football understanding and intelligence, which is why he can break on the football so quickly. He’s a player that’s putting together a really nice start of the week thus far.
â†‘ GEORGE ILOKA - S - BOISE STATE: The Broncos safety has been able to make plays on the receivers here because of his great athleticism and length. He closes quickly on ball carriers and has the ability to locate the football while glued on a receiver. His size and 81 inch wingspan allow him to make plays on larger receivers and tight ends. He made a great break on an overthrow by Michigan State’s Kirk Cousins and was able to high point the football over the receiver and haul in the interception.
â†” ALFONZO DENNARD - CB - NEBRASKA: Dennard is an extremely physical corner that loves to get into a receivers body and forcibly redirect him. Dennard did get beat down the sidelines by California’s Marvin Jones on a nine route today but that was about the only gaffe he experienced, as he did an excellent job maintaining his position in coverage and locating the football once it’s in the air. Dennard has a high football IQ but he also plays with a chip on his shoulder which gives him that ability to out-physical receivers in one on one situations.
â†“ KELLEN MOORE - QB - BOISE STATE: Moore really struggled through his throws today and experienced a number of botched center/quarterback exchanges. Moore did not do a good job of addressing the question marks that he has going against him, namely whether or not he’s just a system passer and if his lack of height will hurt his ability to find open throwing lanes. He’s clearly having issues with the North offensive scheme because there’s been a lot of timing issues with his receivers and it’s on some basic routine throws that the issues are coming up. It’s to be hoped that Moore can get out of this funk he’s in because it isn’t helping his draft stock one bit.
â†“ BRIAN QUICK - WR - APPALACHIAN STATE: Quick is an imposing target at 6′3″ 222 pounds and his agility and explosion really is phenomenal for his size but he simply had a terrible start to today’s practice. He dropped three balls early in the day and those mistakes seemed to haunt him for the rest of the day, as he had difficulty getting open and wasn’t able to haul in another catchable pass in the live scrimmage. Quick did rebound later in the day with a nice adjustment on an overthrow by Kirk Cousins that made a circus type catch but there were simply too many inconsistencies today. With the talent he has, he should be dominating practices but he’s just staying afloat at this point.
â†“ LEONARD JOHNSON - CB - IOWA STATE: Johnson was getting abused by Marvin McNutt and a number of other receivers on the North squad. California’s Marvin Jones easily broke off Johnson on a short curl and a big issues was the large amount of cushion that he gave him. Johnson has clear talent but just wasn’t able to time up his breaks and really let McNutt get the best of him. Johnson had a difficult time on the out routes and outside passes that went his way but he does have the ability to close quickly so if he can adjust to the rest of the north receivers, things might start looking up for Johnson.
DRAFT NOTES: I had the opportunity to watch the backs versus backers pass blocking drills and Washington RB Chris Polk looked out of his element blocking edge rushers, once completely wiffing on a safety and getting flattened by LB Audie Cole. Of the North runningbacks, Doug Martin of Boise State was easily the best blocker, he walled off Cole in their matchup and stoned a defensive back that tried to bull rush him. Boom Herron looked very slight and could almost be mistaken for a wide receiver, which definitely did him a disservice in the pass blocking drills. Cincinnati RB Isiah Pead looked good in his reps but tends to stand up a little too much and often gets caught high.
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Tags: 2012 NFL Draft, Alfonzo Dennard, Appalachian State, Audie Cole, Boise State, Brian Quick, Day Two, Draft, George Iloka, Iowa, Iowa State, Kellen Moore, Leonard Johnson, Marvin McNutt, Nebraska, NFL, NFL draft, North Carolina State, North Practice, Practice, Rookie, Rookie Draft, Senior Bowl, TJ Graham